I promised posting photos and stories about my glorious trip to Japan a while ago but never got to it. Just now I stumbled upon my big photo collection again, and since it’s 3am and I got nothing better to do, I guess I’ll show off one of my achievements I made during the trip.
The above is a lie though, because I actually took me a year writing this post because I kept stopping midways and then have months of not even thinking about it.
I got pretty lucky with my choice of staying in Kyoto – Toyosato happened to be nearby, only about an hour away. Long before my trip, when I had just finished watching the K-On anime, I stumbled upon a blog post about the Toyosato Primary School, which was the setting for K-On and has since then turned into a kind of tourist attraction for fans. Seeing a video about it, I thought “that’s so cool!”, not knowing I’d be going there myself in a few months.
Sadly, the JapanRail line only lead to Hikone. Sadly, there were two Hikone stations, one of them being Minami Hikone (South Hikone). Obviously I was dumb and got off South Hikone. What was even more stupid about it, when I looked up the route on the internet earlier at home, I even saw that there’s two Hikone stations and was thinking “oh, I’ll have to watch out about that” – my brain just completely failed me.
My next step would have been the Ohmi Railway line, but obviously the nice guy from the JR information had no idea what the heck I was talking about because my Japanese was pretty bad and “Ohmi Railway wa doko desu ka” wasn’t enough to make them realize I had gotten off too early. He went through the trouble of calling english JR information, and after a while of explaining I got the confirmation that I did indeed get off one station early.
The good thing? All the time spent figuring that out with the nice JR people made it so I only had ten minutes left to wait for the next train to take me to my actual destination. And I mean it, the people were actually really nice.
The rest of the trip went without problems. Just to ensure I was indeed on the train that would stop at Toyosato, I asked one of the passengers something like … “Sumimasen, kono densha wa Toyosato ikimasu ka”, knowing perfectly that the verb conjugation was probably wrong – he did understand me though. All good, going the right way!
When the train was about to arrive at Toyosato, the guy told me another thing: I had to get off at the front of the train and show my ticket to the driver while leaving. Whew, lucky that guy was so nice and attentive. I totally would have gotten off at the back and probably be shot by automatic turrets or something.
Anyways, I’ve finally arrived. Hello, Toyosato!
Arriving in Toyosato
When you leave the Toyosato station, you find yourself in a small, landly town with barely any people around. You will instead be greeted by these little weirdos that can be found all over the place.
On top of that, there was lots of K-On posters (and some other anime that I don’t know yet) all around on store windows. Apparently these people are having big events at the school to celebrate the characters birthdays. That’s so weirdly cool.
I didn’t have mobile internet and there weren’t any public WLAN hotspots; I also didn’t look up the path to the Toyosato Primary School (because why would I, that would be such a dumb idea), so I decided to simply follow the trail of figures spread across the streets. So far, so good. I walked quite a while and met some familiar faces such as Hatsune Miku, and eventually I’ve also seen some beautiful spots, such as this:
Crossing the bridge to the other side was actually quite an adventure. There weren’t many people around in the city, but all the cars seemed to tunnel up at this bridge; and anyone who’s ever been to Japan knows that walkways can be pretty non-existant at times. That bridge was one of those cases and I had to run accross during a small moment of silence to not be run over by some mad driver. Yes, I actually *did* run across in a dramatic cutscene.
I followed the path after that bridge, which curved to the right…kept curving…and got me right back to a bridge over the river I just crossed. Insert epic bridge-crossing cutscene, again. I’ve been walking around for *at least* an hour now, probably more. At this point, I had seen half the town – but it was the half that didn’t have the school I was looking for. I followed the streets towards the other direction now, getting into a more busy area. There was even a WcDonalds here.
Insert more walking, lots of wind (I swear, it almost sent me flying), more beautiful places, Toyosato Hospital (twice, because I somehow walked in circles) and FINALLY:
Toyosato Primary School. Well, it’s no longer used as such, but that’s what it was before it got turned into a multi-purpose building and K-On shrine. Despite me going there in the middle of the week, during school hours, I ran into a guy who was visiting as well (the person ruining my otherwise perfect shot of the school).
First of all, the area looked unsurprisingly beautiful. Literally every place I’ve seen in Japan looked beautiful. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. It’s just all so clean and orderly. It’s nowhere near like this where I come from.
Like most Japanese buildings, you had to take off your shoes at the entrance. I think they offered slippers (though that might have been another place), but Big-Foot-Me wouldn’t fit in them, so I went to explore in socks! The target location, obviously, the music room, where the anime girls do their practice. The stairway up looked pretty much like it did in K-On, including the turtles on the handrail. There were also bunnies, which appears to be the animal symbol of Toyosato. Both of them were oppressed in their rights within the school, though.
Anyways, upstairs it goes, found the music room. I’ll just post a bunch of pictures in a row, because there’s so many.
So amazing. Why? Because this is all fan-made. I think it’s really awesome that these people were moved to create and spread so much love and passion. They made me smile, and hopefully someone will see this post and I’ll make them smile. Spreading happiness, yay!
Back outside. There’s two more buildings. I should check those too! So I did. On the right of the school building is the auditorium. This is where the K-On girls were holding their performances.
Also I really want to get this post out already and I’m getting sleepy, so I’ll be quick.
The other side had a Toyosato / K-On related souvenir store. I didn’t take any photos in there as it’s not allowed in most stores, but they had a corner in the back with lots of awesome K-On stuff that was donated to be presented there. I bought a Ritsu shirt (which is still my favourite shirt to wear) and a Ritsu pendant. And no, I don’t have a thing for Ritsu. What would make you think that?
It was nice meeting you, Toyosato Elementary School. But it’s not over yet. There was these figures spread out all over the town that I showed at the very beginning, remember? I still had time to spend and I decided I would try and find them all. So once again I found myself walking through half the town, searching for them. It was fun and exhausting! I ended up finding a K-On merch store, but it was past closing time already, which was probably good, because it could have made me broke very quickly. Anyways, here are the results of my search. To this day, I was unable to find Ritsu. I wonder if she’s hiding somewhere. She might also be skipping school or staying home sick though. But yeah, that’s it. I started writing this post in May 2015, then continued in July, then November, then February, then March, and finally, in April I rushed through and finished it, since I need to get it done before I go to Japan again, which is in like five days.